The no-makeup movement raises a lot of questions. Is it a feminist statement? Is it brave? Should we praise women that denounce makeup? And while those questions are still being debated, more and more celebrities are publicly stripping off their makeup. Alicia Keys spearheaded the movement after writing a post on Lenny Letter last year, and has since walked the red carpet, posed for magazine covers, and appeared as a judge on The Voice with a totally bare face. Well, not totally bare—she does employ a makeup artist to care for her skin (and there are plenty of skincare products involved). Most recently, Kim Kardashian made waves by appearing front row at Balenciaga’s Spring 2017 show with nothing but moisturiser on her near-perfect face and décolletage.
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But it’s unfair to compare the no-makeup experience of these celebrities to women living a more private life. Not only are we often pressured into wearing makeup to get ahead in our careers, but we don’t have nearly as much access—or resources–to try the same caliber of cosmetic treatments. When every dark spot has been lasered away and every wrinkle smoothed, then wearing makeup isn’t about hiding any perceived imperfections, as is the case for so many of us. We spoke with Dr. Howard Sobel, a New York dermatologist, to get the rundown on exactly what treatments are out there. We’re not talking about eyelash extensions, semi-permanent brow and lash tinting, or microblading (Kardashian has at least two of these things in the above picture)—but instead the kinds of treatments aimed at anti-aging and perfecting skin. But be warned: they certainly cost more than a stick of concealer.
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Try: The Clear + Brilliant laser can help reverse signs of sun damage and make skin a little more even. “It’s a mini Fraxel,” says Sobel, referring to the gold standard of facial resurfacing lasers. “Fraxel was all the rage. But a lot of people come in and they don’t want 4 or 5 days of downtime afterward. Clear + Brilliant is a slower process. It will help remove pigmentation, increase collagen production, and give skin a little bit of radiance.” Sobel recommends you come back every 2 to 3 weeks until you’ve completed four sessions—that’s when you’ll really notice results. Expect to be a little red for about a day afterward.
What it costs: Roughly $400-$650 per session. You’ll need four treatments a year.
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Try: Think of the Cutera XLV laser as permanent nose concealer. “It’s a laser specific for red spots, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and broken capillaries,” says Sobel, also noting that it’s ideal for acne- and rosacea-prone skin. “I even use it after Botox. If they happen to get a little bruise, you can use the laser to get rid of it.” You can zap it all-over to tone down redness, or just on certain spots in conjunction with other lasers.
What it costs: The price varies by location and the size of the treatment area (a few red spots is different than say, rosacea that spreads across both cheeks). But expect anywhere from $200-$600 per session.
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Try: We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s nearly impossible to cure dark circles. “Dark circles are hereditary more than anything else,” says Sobel. But he does acknowledge that lack of sleep, emotional stress, and dehydration can exacerbate the problem. “Is there a laser that works? Not really. But people with dark circles do tend to have hollowness under the eyes that can be casting a shadow.” Sobel likes to use thin hyaluronic acid filler like Belotero under the eyes to lift the skin up and away from the surrounding blood vessels. “In five minutes you can make someone look as if they had a really good night’s sleep.”
What it costs: Prices range from $500-$1,500 depending on the location and amount of product used.
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Try: It’s in your late 20s and early 30s that volume loss, dull skin, and fine lines become more pronounced. Before you jump right into filler, first try microneedling. And the microneedling a dermatologist does is far different than what you can do at home with one of those stabby little rollers. “I just don’t suggest anyone sticking needles in their face at home,” says Sobel with a laugh. “It should be in a doctor’s office and it should be in the guidelines of a doctor or nurse.” Microneedling involves creating tons of tiny injuries to the skin, which in turn stimulates the collagen and elastin fibers to make the face appear more plump and glowy. It can also clear up acne scars and be used to help introduce potent serums deep into the skin. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Sobel notes that you’ll have mild redness overnight, and that you can come in for a session about four times a year.
What it costs: Anywhere from $700-$1,000.
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